Zercher Squats - Anatomy and Correct Technique

Zercher squats are an unusual strength exercise for the development of the thigh muscles, in particular quadriceps. They were invented by the Canadian athlete Ed Zerher in the 30s of the last century. Due to their effectiveness, they have become widespread and have become an integral part of the training of many professional athletes.

Anatomy of the exercise

When doing Zercher squats, the main load goes to the quadriceps. Additionally included the biceps of the hips, calves and buttocks.

Since you have to hold the barbell with your hands, biceps and shoulder muscles work. The stabilization of the position of the body is due to the muscles of the back and press.

Zercher Squats - Anatomy and Correct Technique

The effectiveness of the exercise is explained by the large array of muscles involved and the unusual amplitude of movement when performing it . Non-standard power load leads to the rapid growth of muscle fibers.

Squats can be performed in or out of the power frame.

In the first case, you take the bar from the racks and do the exercise. When you lift the barbell from the floor, you should use less weight, as the amplitude of the movement becomes larger, it is more difficult to perform and the probability of injury is higher. Constant monitoring of compliance with the equipment is necessary in both cases.

As for the work of the joints, the main condition for their safety is the absence of jerks during the movement and the correct position of the back. This is especially important if the exercise is performed outside the power frame.

At the lower point of the amplitude, a significant load falls on the lower back and knee joints. Therefore, the back should always be flat with a natural deflection in the lumbar. This will not allow the load to move from the muscles to the spine. The knees should not go beyond the line of socks.

Of course, when performing any exercises with large weights, there is a risk of injury.

But, subject to the correct technique and careful attention to your own body, it is minimal.

Zercher Squats - Anatomy and Correct Technique

Exercise is suitable for both women and men. However, women are advised to use the minimum weight or use the help of a trainer when performing a movement. Keep in mind that this type of squats is designed for professional athletes. Exercises cannot be called completely safe and easy, if you are not confident in your abilities, ask your partner to help you.

Zercher squats can be used to overcome stagnation in classic squats with a barbell and deadlift.

Contraindications to the movement are injuries to the knees, elbow joints or spine.


For safety reasons, it is recommended to perform the exercise in the squat frame. Adjust the height of the stops so that the bar is level between the stomach and chest. Next, install the necessary weights on the bar.

Put your hands together, putting one palm in the other, position the bar in the fold of the elbow joints, between the shoulder and forearm.

Zercher Squats - Anatomy and Correct Technique

  1. Carefully remove the bar from the uprights, while pressing your forearms to your chest. Hold the bar firmly on bent arms.
  2. Move away a little from the stand and place your feet wider than your shoulders. Socks turned slightly outward.

    Straighten your back and neck, look forward. A slight deflection should appear in the lower back. This is the starting position.

  3. Take a breath and sit down slowly, bending your knees and pulling your pelvis back. It is important that the knees point in the same way as the feet.

    Keep your back flat and your lower back curved. Lower yourself until an angle of 90 ° or slightly less forms between the hips and calves. The elbow joints at the bottom point touch the knees.

  4. On the exhale, rise, straightening your legs and pushing off the floor.

Do 8-12 reps and return the bar to the stops.

Relax and proceed to the next approach.

Useful Tips

To make Zercher squats as effective as possible, use the following tips:

  • To beginners first you need to master the implementation of standard squats with a barbell and only then proceed to the complicated version.
  • In the upper phase of the movement, do not lean back - this is dangerous in terms of the probability of falling onto your back.
  • When doing squats, the knees should be pointed in the same way as the socks. That is, the hips and feet should be in the same plane.

  • For beginners it is better to engage in a jacket with a long sleeve. So the bar will not rub your hands. If you want to protect your skin, try wrapping a bar with a thin terry towel. This is true when working with moderate weights, with a heavy barbell, it is better not to do such a trick.
  • Work with comfortable weights.

    It’s best to start with a low weight. When you fully master the technique, you can increase weight by adding no more than 5 kg at a time. Appropriate weights will allow you to do at least 12 repetitions.

Of great importance is the frequency of training. First, replace regular squats with Zerher exercise, but not more than once a week.

In the future, if necessary, you can proceed to perform squats with weights 2 times a week. This is quite enough for the harmonious development of the body.

Zercher squats are an advanced exercise for the comprehensive strengthening of all muscles and the targeted development of quadriceps. Subject to the correct technique, they give a quick and noticeable result.



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